Lawsuit Seeks To Stop Removal of Columbus Statue in Syracuse
More than two dozen 'petitioners' including the Columbus Monument Corporation are suing the city of Syracuse to halt its planned removal.
Mayor Ben Walsh announced last October the statue would be coming down, citing opposition from Native American groups, including the Onondagas, via the NY Post:
Mayor Ben Walsh — an Independent — announced on Oct. 9 that the sculpture of the controversial explorer would be canned after opposition from Native Americans and progressives led a special committee to call for its removal.
“I understand this decision has caused pain for some in our Italian American community, and I am sorry for that, but I truly believe this will ultimately bring our community closer together,” Walsh said in making the announcement.
The Columbus statue and water fountain serve as the centerpiece of Columbus Circle in the heart of downtown Syracuse, surrounded by Episcopalian St. Paul's Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and the Onondaga County Courthouse.
An attorney representing the Syracuse based Columbus Monument Corporation told Syracuse.com the lawsuit seeks to remind Mayor Walsh that he was a legal obligation to preserve the statue, not tear it down:
“The city has a legal duty to preserve the Monument, not destroy it,” said Anthony Pietrafesa, an attorney for the Columbus Monument Corporation. “This action reminds the mayor that political expediency and personal antipathies are not supported by the preservation laws or city charter.”
The lawsuit also notes that the city accepted state and private money in 1992 to restore the statue. Along with the money, the city agreed in writing to preserve the statue, according to the lawsuit.
The monument dates back to 1934 and is the creation of architect Dwight James Baum, with much of the cost covered by donations from the Italian-Americans, the outlet also reported.
The city of Utica faced calls to remove it's Columbus statue on the Parkway last year as well, with dueling petitions circling on the internet, but the effort to take it down was unsuccessful. During the public debate at the time, then-Congressman Anthony Brindisi weighed-in on the controversy saying, "Columbus may have sailed the ocean blue in 1492, but he should stay where he belongs---on the Parkway-- in 2020 and beyond.''
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